There are an extensive range of sources in Ancient history, all of which provide a substantial amount of useful information about the past. These include both archaeological and written sources, including buildings, artefacts, human remains and both modern and ancient texts. These sources provide historians and archaeologists with evidence about engineering and technology, historical events, beliefs, lifestyle, social hierarchy and burial practices. With each new discovery archaeologists and historians are able change societies view of the past and paint a clearer picture of how the modern world came to be.
Buildings make an important contribution to the wide range of archaeological sources available in Ancient History. There are a wide array of structures that fall within the term buildings. Temples, houses and amphitheatres are all examples of this. By studying buildings archaeologists are able to determine their religious beliefs, how advanced the engineering of a particular society was and social structure. An example of this is the Parthenon. This temple was constructed in 430BC and by studying the Frieze adoring the walls of the building historians are able to see that religious festivals played a significant role in the ancient athenians lives. The Frieze depicts sacrifice which shows the devotion of the athenians to their Gods. This crucial evidence allows historians and archaeologists to gain a deeper insight into culture and societal norms at the time of construction. The Colosseum in Rome, opened in 80AD, also provides a perfect example of the usefulness of buildings as sources. This flavian amphitheatre provides evidence about the engineering capabilities of the ancient romans as well as the social hierarchy during this period. Through the use of precise measurements, the architect of the Colosseum was able to create a harmonious visual with 80 entrance arches spanning 20 roman feet each. Historians have also found through the use of seat and gate inscriptions that the higher class a person was, the closer the person would be able to sit to the stage.The sheer extent to which this arena has been built demonstrates to archaeologists that the Romans were neither a poor nor primitive society. Both of these vastly different structures demonstrate how valuable buildings are in helping historians and archeologists to understand the past.
Artefacts also represent a large portion of the sources available to historians. There are many types of remains that fall under the blanket term artefacts, including toys, jewellery and amour. They provide clues as to who had wealth, ancient sacrifice and the strength of a nation. For example, ancient spartan armour such as the Royal Spartan Cuirass, worn by the Greek warriors, provides the illusion of a muscular physique, which tells archaeologists that the Greek army were very much a nation who exuded power. They were made of brass or bronze, were light weight and were able to deflect blows from spears, swords and arrows effectively, showing that their armour was well designed and practical. That they were a nation who put a lot of emphasis on their military might. Another type of artefact that tells us about the past is ancient Egyptian amulets. They can identify how wealthy a person was, the higher ups of society were able to wear amulets made of precious stones however the poor had to substitute this for artefacts made of bones and clay. Amulets found in graves of Empresses and Emperors differ from those found in common graves and show the wealth and craftsmanship that were available at the time. The many types of artefacts archeologists and historians study provide essential details into the lives of ancient civilisations.
Apart from buildings and small artefacts, human remains are just one of the vast range of sources that archaeologists can access as evidence. These remains